It's been a busy year for the gang, and we're so proud of each and every one of our accomplishments in the last 12 months... so let's just dive right into all the good news!
You'll recognize Lola in her trademark feather boa... as she finishes the final year of her doctorate at Vanderbilt in Medieval Philosophy, she is contemplating not one, but SEVEN teaching offers at various institutions from Sydney to Mozambique to Seattle. We're hoping she takes the one in Paris so she can finally marry her current amour, the fabulously wealthy divorcee with the famous parfum line!
Armundo is happily re-ensconced in his hometown of Lisbon, but we were all sorry to see him go... after so many years in Nashville setting up various bank security systems, he finally decided that it was time to go back home and accept his responsibility of running the family llama business. He has promised many shipments of top-quality alpaca to Susan in return for scarves, blankets, and other crocheted tchotchkes.
And Pam? Well, Pam is still our little ray of sunshine! After the huge success of her first book, The World is a Beautiful Place and Everyone Just Needs to Shut Up and Enjoy It, a whirlwind book signing tour of the US and Canada has left her quite fatigued but exhilarated. Plans are already underway for similar promotional tours in England, Ireland, Dubai and New Zealand. And her next book? Silly! I'm not allowed to say a word about it!
As for myself, the simple comforts of home are still my greatest joy. Strolling through the halls of my enormous rustic farmhouse in Leiper's Fork, the staff barely have to make an effort to scurry out of my sight, since it was built with many cleverly concealed alcoves to duck into. So I still have the illusion of privacy! Nicole and Keith Urban are always popping by on their way to Bread & Co. in Green Hills; I do keep telling them that the Starbucks in Cool Springs has better coffee, but they just laugh and say they enjoy the drive! So silly.
Back to Reality
My House Calls Computer Service business has grown steadily in the last year, and although every month is its own little Adventure, called "Will Susan Make The Rent?" I feel like I'm making progress. I'm still working part-time at the American Economic Association on the Vanderbilt University campus. My AEA bosses have been amazingly flexible with my schedule, which I'm very grateful for, and I quite enjoy my time there. I have some more website design clients now as well, so I feel like my work is full of my favorite word - VARIETY. I think I've doubled my computer knowledge in the last 12 months!
The nieces and nephews of many a previous Christmas letter are growing steadily - Elliott the oldest has become a teenager this year (NOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!) and the rest are becoming more and more mature and interesting every month. My Knoxville Nieces Taylor, Maddie & Ginny (Woggy) are no longer terrified of me, which is a definite improvement and I only wish they were here in Nashville so I could see them every week too. I babysit my local babies El, George & Henry and Emma almost every Saturday which is one of the highlights of my week, despite the fact that I feel like I'm constantly saying "No, you can't," the entire night. As you can imagine, I am a continual disappointment to them. (No more dessert pizza for you!)
This has been the Year of The Accursed Car, which has been more than a little frustrating. I found that red cars are indeed a BAD IDEA for 2 main reasons:
1) They are statistically more likely to be pulled over for speeding, and
2) They are statistically more likely to be in accidents. (Really! the guy at the body shop confirmed it!)
Granted, when I was in my little white Civic, I did have to replace the front hood three times from my apparent invisibility to 2 large trucks backing up and a careless deer, but three different incidents in one year (both sides and rear bumper)? That's a red car for you. Of course, I also attribute my problems to the fact that it is a Toyota Corolla and not a Honda as I would wish. From the minute my roof got dented & dinged by ACORNS while on my first vacation after purchasing it, I have been ill-disposed towards my car. So, useful lesson from this? Avoid red vehicles.
Susan's Picks for 2006
TV: Doctor Who, Heroes and Eureka. Let your geek flag fly! Three series that would be classified as Sci-Fi/Fantasy, but transcend the genre. The top of the heap? Doctor Who, definitely. Writing, acting, plot, you name it, I love it. The Brits really do know how to make a TV show, especially because they make fewer, and spend more time and money on what they do make. I can't recommend this (newly established in 2005) series highly enough.
Movies: Casino Royale. I used to read the original Ian Fleming novels when I was younger, and this really feels like the books. Not that I didn't enjoy the ones they've made over the last 30 years, but those were silly, fun fluff. Daniel Craig as James Bond is layered, compelling, and BETTER THAN SEAN CONNERY. I mean it.
Books: Dead Bunnies by Bryan Currie. A new Christian writer in the vein of Anne Lamott and Donald Miller, he tells really funny, personal anecdotes and envisions the world and events as part of an amazing Big Picture. Plus, his relatives live in Batesville, AR too!
Music: Songs from the Labyrinth by Sting. The fact that he would spend his fan capital on a collection of renaissance songs by John Dowland is something to be applauded. I really enjoy this kind of music ever since I got to sing madrigals in high school (I like popular songs that you can sing along with; I don't care as much for music that nobody but professionals can perform). Not everyone will like it, and it may be considered a vanity project, but it's definitely worth listening to a few times (not just once; it gets better with repetition).
As I write this on the verge of a very busy month, I hope that all of you, my friends and family, have a wonderful, meaningful Christmas holiday. The Lord bless you and keep you, the Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious unto you – Amen!